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Posted November 19, 2012

T3: Seeing Umoja’s impact, first-hand

For over 15 years, Umoja Student Development Corporation has been working in underperforming Chicago public schools, offering students a chance to succeed. We’ve been inspired by their mission and methods, and have been working with Umoja for nearly two years to improve their branding and messaging.

Their longest-running program is called “T3” — Training-To-Transitions. In a day-long event, seniors at Manley High in North Lawndale (where Umoja began) meet a wide variety of professionals to explore and discuss career aspirations.

We were honored when Umoja invited Jell to participate in their 14th annual T3 event. Along with over 75 other business participants, Jell’s Joe Grossmann had the opportunity to meet and interview Umoja students.

We began the day by splitting into industry-specific panel discussions, in which we first described our career paths, then fielded student questions in an open forum. After the panels, we moved to one of several interview rooms, where each professional claimed a table and took turns interviewing students one-on-one for 15 minutes. Most students arrived equipped with resumes, and all had prepared statements and questions about their career plans. It was great to witness their level of preparation and excitement.

Manley High is a testament to the power of Umoja’s model: more than 90% of their 2012 graduating class were accepted into college. That’s 40% higher than the college acceptance rate for Chicago Public School seniors system-wide — not bad!